In my last blog post I wrote about Disney’s ability to put human dynamics on screen like few other entertainment companies can. And though they don’t get everything right, like a line in Frozen that says “people don’t really change”, they do understand a lot about how humans interact and excel at bringing this to life. In this week’s post I want to focus on something else Disney got right in the movie Frozen.
There are many theories to psycho-therapy and how people change. One of them is called Object Relations. Its basic premise is that all humans grow up learning a certain style of relating. Partially dictated by genetics and partly shaped by life’s circumstances, we grow up to be one of four types of people.
- Antagonist—like being in control, telling others what to do, provocative, challenging, fighting.
- Peace Maker—like to defer to others, listen well, keep the focus off of them, try to blend in.
- Comic Relief—like to entertain others, be the focus of attention, downplay difficulties.
- Avoider— like being alone , avoid interacting with people, focus on their skills or hobbies.
I find the theory of Object Relations quite accurate to my counseling experience. The types listed above indicate how people prefer to relate with other people. As humans grow up and experience life, they land on one primary way of interacting with their outside world. It is this way of relating that makes them feel most significant, comfortable or in control.
And it’s not a problem that people fall into one of these four categories. Problems in life come when we rely too much on one type of relating and can’t be more flexible in using the other three types of relating. In the movie Frozen, each of the main characters takes on one of these ways of relating.
- Elsa is the Antagonist
- Anna is the Peace Maker
- Olaf is the Comic Relief
- Kristoff is the Avoider
As you will see in the movie, each of these characters is fine with their life and doesn’t want to change how they relate to others or the outside world until it is challenged and change needs to happen. Elsa comes to realize she can be a peace maker. Anna realizes she needs to fight for her sister to save the kingdom. Olaf learns to sacrifice for his friends and Christoff eventually engages in the issues at hand and becomes an unlikely hero.
And this is why Disney makes their movies so appealing. It’s not fancy graphics, beautiful voices, far-off kingdoms and intricate storylines (though those help). It’s the change we see occurring in a person as they choose to step outside of their comfort zone and learn to interact with the world and others in a new way. By the end of the movie, Disney would have to admit that “people do really change”, and for the better.